Penn State researchers have said that the payoff for investing in public parks and recreation sites may be healthier, more physically fit residents and a less strained healthcare system.
Geof Godbey, professor emeritus of leisure studies, and Andrew Mowen, associate professor of recreation and parks management, said that investments in parks and recreational services have a dramatic effect on health and fitness.
"There is a strong relationship between how much money is spent to provide such services and the amount of physical activity that people take part in. You get what you pay for," said Godbey.
In one study cited in the report prepared by the researchers for the National Recreation and Park Association, spending an extra 10 dollars per person on park and recreational facilities provided more vigorous exercise for girls and better strength-building for both sexes.
The number of parks and playgrounds in a community can also raise the fitness level of residents. For example, one study found that there was an increase of 17 more minutes of physical activity for each park within a half mile of a home.
In addition, studies have shown that the closer parks and recreational sites are to where people live, the more people use them and the more physically active they are.